I was walking to Oudal’s Used Book Store last Thursday with Tom Steller. We were discussing Jesus’s words about anxiety. As I quoted the sentence, “Which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his span of life?” (Luke 12:25), I stepped into Portland Avenue and almost got run over.
Which, of course, set me to thinking: Well, I suppose you really can add a cubit to your span of life if you are anxious enough to watch the light. Now, of course, street-crossing was not so dangerous in Jesus’s day. But surely he would have agreed that you can add a cubit to your span of life if you don’t walk into the desert so far that you die of thirst trying to walk out again. And if desert-phobia keeps you from doing that, then does not anxiety add to your span of life?
No! It is not the anxiety which saves. It is reasonable precaution. The desire not to die in the desert is not the same as anxiety about walking in the desert. Anxiety is the twisty, tense feeling inside that may or may not go with reasonable precaution; and it is the caution that can add a cubit to your life, not bad feelings. Precautions have lengthened many lives; anxiety has lengthened none and shortened many.
“Do not be anxious for your life” (Luke 12:22) does not mean: Walk on red (at least not always). It means 1) don’t fantasize nervously about getting pasted in the crosswalk; 2) believe that if you do get pasted, God is still in control and you will be with him and he will take care of your family; 3) if a carton of gold is across the street and the kingdom of God is on this side, don’t cross even on green; 4) if a red light tries to stop you from giving a big missions offering this week, walk on red! (Financial precautions are almost always too conservative.)
After blue, God’s favorite color is green. Consider the lilies.